Plumbing snakes and hydro jetting are two common methods of cleaning out clogs within your home's plumbing. However, they seek to achieve the same result through different methods, which means both drain snakes and hydro jets have specific advantages and disadvantages associated with them. Understanding the differences between each method of drain clearing can help you choose the best method for your home's plumbing needs.
Plumbing snakes consist of a single metal cable, usually with some type of augur attached to one end. The snake is unwound either by hand or with the use of a motor down the drain until the augur makes contact with the matter that is blocking the pipe. The ends of the augur will then break it apart into manageable pieces to get water flowing properly through your plumbing once again. The main advantages associated with plumbing snakes are cost and accessibility: you can rent snakes from most hardware stores in a variety of sizes to fit into any of your pipes. In addition, snakes can allow you to identify more serious plumbing problems, such as tree roots in your plumbing, if they are unable to break through the clog.
However, snakes do come with some significant downsides. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, they won't clean away the entirety of the clog, but will instead create a small opening. For things like grease clogs, this means that you may experience more clogs in the future.
Hydro jetting refers to using a high-pressure hose to blast a stream of water down your pipes to clear away any and all obstructions. The main draw of using hydro jetting to clean your plumbing is that it will completely clear out everything inside, scraping buildup off of the sides of your pipes and providing you with the best drainage possible and reducing the risk of future clogs.
However, hydro jetting does have a couple of downsides. Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, hydro jetting requires specialized equipment to work, which means that it requires hiring professionals to clear your drains out. This makes hydro jetting a much more expensive process than using a drain snake, and therefore not ideal for some homeowners. Furthermore, hydro jetting cannot be used in damaged or old pipes, since it causes a great deal of stress and strain to your plumbing and can greatly increase the risk of a burst pipe occurring.